the view from the tower

arcite's day

Monday, January 31, 2005

Scorching Bay

It’s the last day of the holidays. So what else is there to do than to make sure we have everything for ours and the boys’ lunches for the first day back at skool, forget about marking and late assignments and head off to Peter Jackson’s fave beach, Scourching Bay? The lads play in the sand and lose the two model cars they bought at the Car Museum: one in the sea, one buried in the sand. I help hunt but wonder if all children are such born sculptors. My, the sea is warmer than I recalled. I spend the morning reading Sir Orfeo, then a little Bronte then begin Bujold's Barrayar I'd just picked up at at a 5 min stop at the public library on the way along with a Poetry NZ mag, a Pretty Things CD and a Stone Reader DVD. Spoilt, we all get hot and go and get ice cream cones. Yes, life sure is tough here.

...arcite at Monday, January 31, 2005...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

‘getting over a nervous breakdown’

Brutality. Black Box Recorder
No-one Like You. Strawpeople (feat. Pearl Runga)
Hey Baby. No Doubt
Hooked on Radiation. Atomiser (PSB Mix)
The Horses. Rikki Lee Jones (live)
Chelsea Hotel #2
Candidate. Bowie (Live)
People Keep Coming Around. Tindersticks
You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket. The White Stripes
Husband House. Sneaky Feelings.
Twist Top. The Clean
On Again/Off Again. The Clean
The Mysteries. Bowie
Waterloo Sunset. The Kinks
There is Power in a Union. Billy Bragg
And So is Love. Kate Bush
Where Have All the Good Times Gone? The Kinks

Chelsea Hotel. Why do I think of Joplin? Did I read that somewhere?
I wonder what Bowie’s version of Waterloo Sunset sounds like. God, that’s a perfect song. Last night I cranked the stereo way up and just blasted it. In the lines I heard echoes of Wordsworth.


Slowly the afternoon takes shape out of the thundering pain. It was never snowing; that was your eyes. Well, the part of the brain that sees. Metallic clouds. A car speeding past the desert road. In the metallic cloud, the volcano. Hidden. See, remember and take stock of yourself. Tight, straight-cut levis, red and blue bush shirt. Stickiness near the fly. Cum which could only be mine. Still wet. And on the palm of the right hand a black tear tatoo the size of a magpie’s eye. No wallet. Good Doc Martins shoes.

...arcite at Saturday, January 29, 2005...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just as I associate certain times with whatever I was listening to at the time, I also associate certain times with key books. This killer month will be remembered for Jane Eyre. I feel almost superstitious about this novel—much in the way actors fear mentioning The Scottish Play. Sinister, dark, violent, cruel: a hex of a text if ever a witch cast one. Yes, I thought the novel full of tricks and mirrors from the start but now I see the reflective sheen as being from surface of a still dark weir underneath which lurks some Grendel watching for the right moment to pull you down into the depths. I’m near the end, now, and I feel I have missed something, some key, some casual remark or soft laugh that would reveal the workings of a complex machinery of despair; as if they were actors off-stage, human or supernatural—fey witches who live to spoil—that doom Jane and, in turn, the reader.

Or maybe it’s just been a tough month, now thankfully coming to a close. The moon’s full and bound to turn.

...arcite at Thursday, January 27, 2005...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Just a few quick words before class.

I was saddened to read on the Tolkien Society web site that Humphrey Carpenter had died.

Here's an extract:

We regret to announce the death of Humphrey Carpenter, who made an early and unique contribution to Tolkien scholarship when, with the approval of the Tolkien family, he was commissioned to write the authorised biography for Allen and Unwin. Published in May 1977, a few months before The Silmarillion, it brought the stories of the T.C.B.S. and the love of Ronald and Edith to Tolkien fans for the first time. It also included an indispensable bibliography, which even today has only had a few items added to it (apart from the posthumous works, of course). Carpenter was then commissioned to write The Inklings (1978), and finally edited a large selection of Tolkien's Letters (1981), with the aid of Christopher Tolkien.

I'm still getting migraines which I'm putting down to stress. This is a lot even for a migraine sufferer prone to 'clusters.' Back to meditating twice a day to try to find some peace.

'The Inklings' is a superb work of literary biography.

I've been called for jury service. I'm going to try to ask to be excused as I'll be on the jury when I'm due to be teaching at a yet to be named high school and I need the practice hours.

Nearly finished my article--now all I have to do is the grading, pronto!

Love to you all

...arcite at Tuesday, January 25, 2005...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Prayer flags

Wellington Anniversary Holiday.
My migraines have fallen away, so we go to the Trade Aid shop and buy 10 bright Tibetan prayer flags for the garden and Tara incense for the house.
I try not to think about work and cigarettes.

My old friend Scooter came by yesterday. He lives in Tokyo now and I hadn’t seen him since we got drunk in Singapore a year or so ago. He tells me he has a brain tumour and they are going to have to cut it out from between his ear and his brain within the next four months. It should be OK and shouldn’t grow back but the operation is tricky. So he's flying out today back to Japan. Got to get back to work!

I listen to the dark of David Live, especially Sanborn’s exotic horn and Earl Slick’s uneasy guitar. Bowie so stoned he claims not to remember the concert but not a note is out of place here. Candidate’s almost the antithesis of chilled-out: wired, strung-out, tragic, pallid, anemic, hungover.

And I think about the Coens’ movie The Man Who Wasn’t There.
I mean, if that guy hadn’t come into the barber’s shop then nothing would have happened—more precisely, if he hadn’t had that thought that he could get away with the blackmail then nothing would have happened. Fiction is never about character so much as about webs of entanglement. Jane Eyre, again: “you think fiction is about ghosts, vampyres, all that goes bump in the night but let me show you that it’s all about the entanglements of the real world, a real world that includes the question of what you choose to see before you and what you decide it to be.” Which happens to be the lawyer’s defense in the film and which opens up a paranoid ‘Rosewell’ reading which never quite fully added up.

Well, my life is sure entangled enough for me at present.

...arcite at Monday, January 24, 2005...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Yesterday was j22: my start of the new year. Lovely weather so we had a family pinic. We drove up the coast to the Southward Car Museum, had our pinic (sandwhiches, not Indian), then after a little shopping went to Paraparaumu beach, had ice-creams, then drove home where I sparked up the barbie.

I was lying on Tyger's bed reading the paper, about 9.PM, when I felt the earthquake--the eleventh here in the last few weeks--shake the bed.

The radio this morning said it was an aftershock. Last night I dreamt of earthquakes.

...arcite at Sunday, January 23, 2005...

Friday, January 21, 2005

We just had a quake this morning. The whole house was shaking and a small clock fell off the bookcase. Oh my! Oh My! Even Canopus meeowed and looked strange. All this was five minutes or so ago.

We’ve had a lot of quakes in Wellington. Nothing major but...see the
reports for yourself.

I am so much calmer today as I’ve written a draft of the article and feel better. So despite the earthquake I’m OK. I’m not use to book reviewing.

Great sentence last night in Jane Eyre: "I had rather be a thing than an angel"
A thing!
I had rather be...


My foot touched down on the side of the highway. A blur of traffic. Already the bright asterisk of the attack was fading leaving only vague disassociated memories: the clatter of seats when the audience rises from a lecture theatre, the dull warmth of cum on the stomach, the acidic, bitter taste of overbrewed tea.

...arcite at Friday, January 21, 2005...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The good side of stuffing up on two fronts is that you can't fixate on one. I called about my missed deadline at 8.00 AM this morning: friend and editor HR was still in bed. I thought of Ikrek and how she told me about her pangs of obsessiveness. Well, I'm so wired up at present that I'm seriously thinking about seeing a doctor. But, as ever, I am writing furiously and I don't think I'll have a problem meeting next week's deadline. But the sleep isn't good. At least last night when I couldn't sleep I got a good view of Gemini.

This year hasn't begun yet at all. It's like a tsunami: we're still caught in the aftershocks of last year. Word-girl trapped in a job she hates; I trapped in College juggling jobs, kids, reviews. I so wanted this year to be different but I'm still hopeful. This cycle must come to a close and a new arc begin.


Under your jacket, the rainbow dark of black feathers.
'We need you to bring her back.'

...arcite at Thursday, January 20, 2005...
Well do you blog the really bad days? The days you’re incompetent at work, don’t organise yourself properly, don’t deal with unexpected pressure well, don’t even keep track of the crucial paperwork--always the crucial paperwork; the days you do more than misuse semi-colons but also misjudge deadlines so that even with the best efforts and intentions you completely fuck-up what you once saw as a golden opportunity? Now I feel abject, useless, not subject to Fortuna’s whims so much as my own capacity to completely fumble the ball. Tomorrow I’ll try to clean up but I’m sailing close to the wind again. Why can’t I be more organised? Shit. Shit. Shit.

...arcite at Thursday, January 20, 2005...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

You'd think of course that they wouldn't need to shift your office given that you only teach for six weeks; but they do. You'd think that an old friend wouldn't take your disagreement with him over the invasion of Iraq personally; but he does.

(Can you use the semi-colon like that I wonder? I think so. I have ten minutes maximum to write this).

Your boss explains why she wants you to teach both her classes next week as well as an additional class on Wednesday; her father has suffered a massive heartache and she must rush to Paris by the end of the week. So double up the classes and I'll pay you for one extra, says she.

Then Earthquake! You feel the tower wobble and shake around you. Holy shit! "We're having a ..." then it stops.

Oh boy.

Solid ground. This whole month wobbles like jelly. I want to finish the teaching, grading, the bloody article (less then two weeks to deadline, not yet started although all has been read and all notes prepared) not to mention outstanding late Art History assignments and assignments I'm supposed to be working on over the holidays. Ugh.

Moonrise. This late?
Your smile had the valency of water.
'Tell me about Crow' I asked.
'When he was on tree, Crow was in branch.'
Then you gave me your right eye for a keepsake.
'There's something we want you to do for us' you said.

...arcite at Tuesday, January 18, 2005...

Monday, January 17, 2005

Paekakariki Beach

The next day we drove to Paekakariki to visit Elias, Athena and their two blond-haired cherub children, Space and Astra.

Elias, as you may remember, is a friend and ex-colleague with whom I’m working on an info. architecture pitch.

Paekakariki is about a 45 minute drive up the Kapiti Coast. We left the spacious rooms with their lovely kauri and remu wood floors to go for a walk on the nearby beach. I hadn’t been to Paekakariki beach before although I’m been to Raumati just up the coast. The beach is a track running above large grey boulders placed their by the council to stop erosion. The tide covered the sand. In the strong gusts we saw two surfers braving the grey swells.


Midnight was 404.
We sat on a grassy knoll and looked down on the distant lights of the detention centre. In the dark I could not see my feet.
‘I’m not one; not two’ you said.

...arcite at Monday, January 17, 2005...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A gorgeous day. Penelope left in the morning for her friend’s afternoon birthday party and then nephew Simon, his mum and his grandma, popped by for a chat as Simon, from Sydney, was staying the night. I potted about doing work when I could not too fussed in the bright sun. The lads had fish ‘n’ chips but we had zucchini pasta accompanied by chopped avocado and tomato and a refreshing glass of the inexpensive Selaks Premium Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004. All day clear skies so I was hoping to start following Eridanus, The River, right next to Orion but it clouded over.

98: counting backwards from ten

Evening was under construction.
We dodged the lift-lobby stalkers and headed for the perimeter fence.
‘Ding’ said a lift.
We followed the concrete hall looking for a good spot to jump over into public housing.
When you asked, coquettishly, if I liked your mirror work skirt I saw that your tongue was tattooed with astrological glyphs.

...arcite at Sunday, January 16, 2005...

Friday, January 14, 2005

As Huygens hurtled towards Titan, I stepped out onto Kelburn Parade after my writing class and saw a skateboarder rush around the corner, fly past the Von Zed tower and stop at the bottom without any sign of a speedwobble or loss of control. Now that’s skating. Then to dinner with word-girl, my sister Penelope and her good friend Janine.

99: justified and ancient with still no master plan

We took shelter from the afternoon monsoon downpour in the factory bus shelter.
"I’d ask you to join the resistance but you’re a stickler for appearances" she said.
"Where’s the plain of reflection? Can you scratch the tain?"
I was disappointed that we crossed over the glass so I watched some drowning ants.
"You’ll come to appreciate our methods some day, we who in some strange power’s employ dance in the crow’s eye."

...arcite at Friday, January 14, 2005...

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Terrible asthma this morning. I've been taking Ventolin for days and now I'm all speeded up, irrational, wired, crazy. I hardly ever had asthma in Singapore. Anyway, we work out our budget and we're overspending given that I used to have a good salary and now earn nothing. So our belts will have to be tightened. And I'll have to go back to yoga to get my system calmed down: it's tough being a Lancastrian male hysteric, but someone has to do it. Arf.

No word in the media about Cassini, so I'm so glad I'm a nethead. How sad that space doesn't really warrant a mention given that Cassini's been such a fantastic success. Doesn't the ridge on Iapetus deserve even a mention?


Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.

Garlic? Gaaarlic? Excuse me?

I was dreaming of a tree or a cross.
My friend was covering her tracks in the snow
Her face a cowl
Crow was in tree
Come back I cried
Come back to me!

...arcite at Thursday, January 13, 2005...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Taniquetil. Tolkien

Back to bed with Jane Eyre. I read again the scene where she shews Mr Rochester her drawings, after surprising talk of the green folk departing; drawings which he declares 'elfin: pictures of the Evening Star and a 'pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a polar winter star.' And, before dreaming, I thought of Tolkien and how so much of his art matched Jane's drawings.

...arcite at Wednesday, January 12, 2005...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Wellington Airport

I get a ride from the Tower over to Wellington Airport where I, Word-Girl, Roishan, Tyger, Raju and Deepawali are off to fairwell Word-girl's sister Kavita. At the airport we are joined by Kavita's old friend Fey Wong, an ex-Singapore crackpot; as we sit in the lounge I feel bombarded by visitors: my old friend Patrius, my sister Penelope, my nephew Nog who will stay with us on Friday as well as another trip up the coast to see my old friend and colleague Elias: he who invited me in for the info architecture job; all these social commitments and encounters I find altogether tiresome although also somewhat exhilirating. What a miserable old git I've become, I ponder, although I add to myself that it is the school holidays. But as we walked to the airport from a nearby street so as to avoid exorbitant parking charges Tyger pointed out a metallic grey Hercules taking off, no doubt, for Aceh and I noted how petty Arcite's woes were for the people waiting for those supplies.

...arcite at Tuesday, January 11, 2005...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tory Street

'Yea, I'm in.'
So I go down to Tory Street but as I suspected it's a pitch for a website redesign although my old friend looks confident that the company will get the job.
Yea, whatever.
So we go through the site and I work out a methodology and if they take it then we'll budget the job.
And then he gives me another RFP. This one requires extensive report and document simplification--if we got the job--and I'm back to when we used to be consultants from home.
'And how's it going for money?' You know at one time we were both on pretty good salaries.
Before the dotcom hype crash. Yea, whatever.
I'm unsettled, unsure, rattled, uneasy, out of balance: I want to be left alone for a very long time. I want to work uninterrupted for hours on end. I want to cover my head with a pillow this morning.
I begin the hike up to the university tower.
I've got to teach tomorrow.

...arcite at Monday, January 10, 2005...

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Pluto. Goodhirt. Goldenhorse. Bar Bodega. Saturday.

So the Goldenhorse curse is finally lifted and I got to see them play live at The Bodega. Pluto and Goodshirt were totally rocking with a tight, funky guitar sound. Goldenhorse tried rocking it up but she's such a diva, asking if the mic's ok, that some of the crowd looked pained and some left before the end of the set. I loved them all. Now I must cook Tyger's tea with word-girl.

...arcite at Sunday, January 09, 2005...

Friday, January 07, 2005

life during wartime

beautiful people. trinity roots (nz)
don't let the man get you down. fatboy slim
life during wartime. talking heads.
do you realise? the flaming lips.
approaching pavonis mons by balloon. flaming lips (mega geek title, yea!)
american wife. goldenhorse (nz)
boulevard of broken dreams. green day.
in every dream home a heartache. bryan ferry & jane birkin.
where have all the good times gone? the kinks
waterloo sunset. the kinks
hey baby. no doubt
elimination. deceptikonz (nz)
synchronise thoughts. p. money (nz)
tyed. tindersticks
top of the city . kate bush (am i the only one who loves this song?)
weeping wall. bowie
don't let the sun go down on me. elton john.

...arcite at Friday, January 07, 2005...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A great word in Jane Eyre last night that started a reverie

jewel casket

Raining all day. Grading. Got a call from downtown: want to do an info. architecture job? Could be a big one? Are you in?

...arcite at Wednesday, January 05, 2005...

Monday, January 03, 2005


So we stayed a night at Taupo and I kept thinking 'this lake is a volcano' because I'm very mindfull of volcanic activity and then we drove down to Taihape where we stopped for tea and browsed for second-hand goods, where thence I bought a Reader's Digest unabridged illustrated edition of Jane Eyre for $3, and continued driving, and brought Canopus home from the Makara cattery to fresh mince I bought from the market for the festivity, and opened then our mail, a lovely yuletide compilation from Brittle Lemon, and a Q best of and Flaming Lips CD from my brother--original, indeed for he will abide no burner in his abode--then did washing and quaffed a few ales. And so to bed.

...arcite at Monday, January 03, 2005...

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Orewa Beach.

Kavita needed to get on with her work as a freelance PR/Marketing writer after first debugging her PC, so I drove Word-girl, Roishan and Tyger over the Auckland harbour bridge to Orewa. As a loyal Wellington, I admit to being more wooed by Auckland on this vist then ever before. The tropical weather here has an almost magnetic appeal after suffering the slings and arrows of Wellington's outrageous freezing blasts. Auckland's more cosmopolitan, more closer to Singapore, more Polynesian and boasts a killer art gallery that puts Te Papa to shame. You can actually go into the water at Orewa without screaming from the cold. Try doing that in Wellington in the summer.

When we came back Kavita had cured her PC of its memory problems by deleting unwanted files and in doing so had trashed Microsoft Office. So we backed up all her data and had supermarket roast chicken again for tea. (I am sick of chicken; so sick of chicken). I finished Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction and tossed up whether to start Romanticism but in the end I continued reading an excellent book on Colin McCahon in Kavita's library called A Question of Faith. Decision: there's no doubt that Boulevard of Broken Dreams counts as a cracker single even if it's by Green Day. I must have that tune.

...arcite at Sunday, January 02, 2005...

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Dusk. We're leaving Auckland's Denny's after Roishan's birthday feast to cross the road over to the Sky Tower. As we leave I notice a skinny seven-inch weta clinging to a the wall near the doorway. A party of Australians surround the insect and a well-built lad of around sixteen years is just about to try to impale the dormant bug with an umbrella.

'Don't do that! Some of these in the bush are an endangered species!' I cry earnestly.

'What is it? Does it steeng?' he asks with a Neighbours accent.

I tell him that Weta's are mostly harmless though there are some rumours that the larger ones bite. I have no idea if the legend of biting wetas is true or false.

After dinner we stopped by the Aotea centre and watched a few songs by the hip-hop act The Deceptaconz. Quite good really. Earlier in the day I had cashed in my vouchers at Whitcoulls and bought Romanticism by David Blayney Brown and donated to Oxfam for the Tsunami appeal.

Truth is, dear Blog, I just want to go home as quickly as possible, get my cat out of the cattery, and tackle a pile of marking as well as a review article that all needs to be completed this month.

And a Happy New Year to you all!

...arcite at Saturday, January 01, 2005...